ABOUT WEST MICHIGAN MODERN
Since 2010 West Michigan Modern has been photographing buildings and researching structures of all types. The WMM goal is to expand our database of modern 20th-century builders and architects and promote an understanding and appreciation of modern architecture and design in West Michigan.
WHO WE ARE
VanderPloeg is the WMM Website Editor, Researcher, Designer
She shares information and images about modern architecture and design whenever and wherever possible in lectures and presentations that are photo journeys through the modern neighborhoods, lakeshore areas and city streets of West Michigan. Past programs include West Michigan AIA lecture at the Wealthy Street Theatre, Grand Rapids Public Library Program at Temple Emanuel, East Grand Rapids Friends of the Library presentation at City Hall, the OSHER Lifelong Learning Institute at Aquinas College, the Lowell History Museum and Michigan Historic Preservation Network Conference.
VanderPloeg has led guided architectural tours for groups like Grand Rapids Art Museum, Women's City Club, Aquinas Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Michigan Modern Symposium at Kendall College of Art and Design.
VanderPloeg received her A.B. in Political Science, Hope College, M.M. in Management from Aquinas College, an M.L.S. in Library and Information Science from Indiana University and studied historic preservation and architectural history at Kendall College of Art & Design.
She is a member of the Board of Directors, Michigan Chapter of Docomomo US which is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of modern architecture.
From 2000-2010, VanderPloeg was the Assistant Director of Kent District Library supervising 18 KDL Libraries where she worked with an awesome staff on the delivery of great library service. She also collaborated with forward-thinking communities on the design of beautiful, functional, friendly community libraries.
CONTRIBUTING WRITER, RESEARCHER AND STYLE EDITOR, WMM
Melissa Fox is a freelance writer and researcher who has published articles in Michigan History Magazine and for West Michigan Modern on topics related to Grand Rapids history, including furniture history, architecture and design, and on a few notable Grand Rapidians.
Fox has a BA in English and a Masters Degree in Library Science, both from Indiana University. She worked in libraries for 10 years, and did a range of jobs including story times and teen programing, adult reference and local history research. Her most recent work was as Local History Librarian for the History and Special Collections Department, Grand Rapids Public Library. As part of that work, Melissa used standard archival processes to accession new collections donated to the library archives giving her a tremendous understanding of what materials are available to researchers in West Michigan.
As local history librarian, Fox was responsible for the highly successful Grand Rapids History Detectives Program. She also organized popular speaker programs on a variety of topics and for the popular summer Grand Rapids Reads program. Fox served as a member of the statewide Michigan Notable Books Committee under the auspices of the Michigan Center for the Book. She has given presentations for a number of organizations on a range of historical topics and figures.
At the heart of Melissa's interest in modern architecture and design is a lifelong curiosity in the idea of home, how people live in and define their spaces, and in the stories that grow throughout the life of a house.
WEB DESIGN AND MARKETING CONSULTANT
Andria Romkema, Web Content Manager at the Right Place, continues to guide WMM on website and strategic plan development. With an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, Andria has abundant experience in the non-profit sector working for Ann Arbor SPARK, the Edward Lowe Foundation and the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness. Among her many activities, Andria is completing an MBA degree at Grand Valley State University.
RESEARCHER AND CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Rebecca Kalinowski graduated from Aquinas College with a BFA in 1974. In 1973 she was part of a group of Aquinas art students selected to help fabricate one of the pieces in Sculpture Off the Pedestal, the first major outdoor sculpture installation of its kind. Her interest in mid-century art and architecture intensified while working on numerous projects as a member of the Women's Committee of the Grand Rapids Art Museum in the late 1980's. While she never quit her day job as a nurse, her passion for collecting mid-century glass, pottery, furniture and art intensified over the years.
When Rebecca and husband Michael purchased a traditional 1950's ranch house 30 years ago, they began an odyssey updating the house to incorporate their growing collection of vintage mid-century furnishings. While Michael was employed at Herman Miller, Rebecca became intrigued by the impact that company had on design in West Michigan and the world. A chance meting with Pam VanderPloeg at her not-so-modern Key West style cottage brought Rebecca and Pam together and provided the opportunity to help WMM research MCM homes both via the Grand Rapids Public Library archives and on the trail finding undiscovered MCM homes from mid-state to the Lakeshore.
Says Rebecca "There is something so exhilarating and gratifying about seeing an MCM home for the first time and searching out its story." Yes WMM is all about the stories that give these buildings life!